Woody Guthrie – This Machine Kills Fascists! Why have that sign?

Woody Guthrie – This Machine Kills Fascists! Why have that sign?


Woody Guthrie had a sign that he stuck or painted on his guitars. It read:


Woody was an extremely clever man. He knew you didn’t wipe out fascism by bombing, shooting or legislating.

War and violence creates hatred and fear. For every fascist killed two more are spawned. It is self-defeating. It is the cycle we are seeing in the Middle East – in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan……..

Fascism is born of desperation and ignorance. It is born out of hopelessness. People look for black and white, simple answers, to complex problems. They elect fascists to sort the problems. They turn to fascism to give them hope.

They are mistaken.

Woody recognised this. The answer to fascism, racism, and religious fanaticism in the long term is not violence, it is education – it is through song and intelligence.

I’m all for the death of fascism. I play my music, write my books, write my poems and write my blog. I protest.



Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

A great combination!

Opher's World

Billy Bragg Bath3-Jun-2011-largeWoody Guthrie
I’m an individual. There ain’t nobody who can write like me.
When I was a kid my favourite track was the Kinks – ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’. I still love it.
My blog is full of whatever takes my mind. If it’s in there it will come spilling out. I live to write.
My books are full of my knowledge and imagination. I give it full vent.
Woody Guthrie is one of my heroes. Not just because of the brilliant legacy of songs that he left us – which are devastatingly brilliant and unique. He invented the topical song story – protest song and social commentary. I love him for it. But I admire him as much for his stance.
Woody stood for something and never held back. He said what he believed. He lived the way he spoke.
Woody believed in equality. He lived with the poor and blacks…

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Quote 7 – Woody Guthrie – This machine kills fascists

There’s still a lot of fascists out there that need a dose of education.

Opher's World

Woody Guthrie rambled round in the thirties, forties and fifties in America. He travelled with black and white alike. He stood for fairness and justice. He stood on picket lines with working men striking for a fair wage and fair treatment. He opposed injustice, racism, sexism and elitism.

He wrote songs like nobody had ever heard before.

The quote I am going to give from him is the one he painted on his guitar –

‘This machine kills fascists’

Woody Guthrie

It is a simple concept for a complex issue. He was saying that you do not destroy poisonous ideology like fascism and fundamentalism with guns – you destroy them with music, with words, with education. You change the minds not blow up the bodies.

That has informed my life.

Music is a powerful tool for changing people’s minds and awakening their humanity and love of their fellow men and women. The…

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Woody Guthrie’s guitar slogan – This Machine Kills Fascists’ – An extract from the book ’53 and Imploding’ that I am currently rewriting.

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970:  Photo of Woody Guthrie  Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Woody Guthrie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Guthrie’s guitar slogan ‘This machine kills fascists’ is fascinating. First it highlights that a musical instrument is merely a machine and secondly it suggests that the power of reason is sufficient to change someone’s deep held views. I don’t know if that is true. Fascism is a corruption that spreads like pus from a burst appendix. It corrupts and degrades and produces the most terrible fevers and stench. It has to be disinfected or contained. Once it has caught hold it twists minds and eats away kindness until all that’s left is rancid hatred. Can love and reason turn that around? I guess you have to catch it young and educate those minds so that you inoculate them against this rancid cancer. It doesn’t stop me wanting to kill the bastards! I have to remind myself that violence begets violence, hatred breeds hatred and revenge merely creates cycles of revenge. As individuals and as a race we need to control our endocrinal urges and supersede them with cortex power – brain over glands – head over heart. Woody Guthrie knew that. He knew that you couldn’t kill fascism with a gun; you had to use education.


Woody Guthrie – This machine kills fascists!

Woody Guthrie used to go around with a sign saying ‘This machine kills fascists’ on his guitar. You cannot defeat fascism, such as Islamic fundamentalism, through violence. You win people over with the power of words.
Justice, freedom, equality and fairness carry more power than an atomic bomb!

Join the new zeitgeist! Build a better world with a smile and a handshake!

Woody Guthrie